Young carers from local charity The Carers’ Centre have contributed to a groundbreaking parliamentary inquiry into young and young adult carers, the results of which were published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) today.
The inquiry, supported by the national charity Carers Trust, sheds light on the profound impact of inadequate support on the education, well-being, and future prospects of young carers.
There are an estimated one million young carers in the UK, with at least 3,000 in Bath and North East Somerset alone. The time they spend caring can lead to them falling behind at school and damage their life opportunities. Yet, despite mounting evidence showing the impact of their caring role, little has been done to improve support over the years.
The inquiry heard from 70 individuals and organisations including young carers services, schools, and parents. Most powerfully, it heard from more than 400 young and young adult carers around the country, including several from Bath and North East Somerset.
Three members of the The Carers’ Centre’s Young Carer Council submitted video evidence to the parliamentary inquiry, talking about mental health support for young carers. Another member, a 16-year-old from Radstock, attended the House of Commons in September to talk to MPs about the impact of being a young carer on her education as well as the impact of the intensity of her caring role. She expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to share her experiences, stating:
“It was really good to have the chance to speak about my own experiences. Going today, I was able to focus fully on myself and what I need as a young carer. Everyone there really listened and seemed like they cared.”
Thanks to input from young carers like these, the inquiry heard:
· Being a young carer has a knock-on effect on school attainment and attendance, with young carers missing 27 school days per year on average.
· Young adult carers are substantially (38%) less likely to achieve a university degree than their peers without a caring role.
· Young adult carers are less likely to be employed than their peers without a caring role.
· Young people with caring responsibilities have a higher prevalence of self-harm. Of children who do self-harm, young carers are twice as likely to attempt to take their own life than non-carers.
The report recommends the urgent introduction of a cross-government national carers strategy, including a properly resourced action plan for young carers and young adult carers. The Government should also work with young carers and young adult carers on immediate plans to improve early identification, increase access to support and reduce the numbers of young people providing excessive levels of care.
Jacqui Orchard, CEO of The Carers’ Centre, said: “It is encouraging to see the focus on young and young adult carers through the work of the APPG. I believe it will inspire individuals in various sectors, including education and health, to ensure young carers are recognised and supported as early as possible.
“I am particularly proud of our Young Carer Council who shared their experiences in a national forum.
“Their dedication and courage are inspiring serving as a catalyst for meaningful change on the lives of other young carers.
“Let’s work together to make sure young carers in Bath and North East Somerset get the support and recognition they deserve in a caring and inclusive environment.”